Just like Earth, Mars has sand dunes.
On February 14, 2019, NASA’s Mars orbiter, Odyssey has revealed a large dune field that is shaped roughly like a hexagon on the crater floor in the Terra Cimmeria section of the southern highland region of the planet.
According to NASA/JPL, Dunes at high latitudes – near the polar caps – are affected by seasonal frost and ice. The interactions with frost/ice reduces the amount of movement of sand grains within the dunes.
This changes the morphology of near-polar dunes when compared to dunes at lower latitudes where ice/frost do not occur as frequently.
A close look at the image reveals many curving dust devil tracks in the terrain next to the dune field. The dust devils were probably driven by an atmospheric temperature contrast between the dark dunes and light-toned landscape.
This crater’s latitude is 68 degrees south of the equator.
Planetary scientists will to continue to study this wind driven Martian phenomenon and to help provide more clues about the formation process.
Rod is a blogger, writer, filmmaker, photographer, daydreamer who likes to cook. Rod produces and directs the web series, CUPIC: Diary of an Investigator. He is also the editor, producer and administrator of TNC Network.